Each of Bikram’s 26 hot yoga poses offers significant benefit to the body, mind and soul. It doesn’t matter how well an asana or posture is done as long as it is done the right way. Bikram Yoga is Hatha Yoga practised in a heated room with 50% humidity. Bikram Yoga is conducted for 90 minutes. The first 45 minutes of the class focuses on a series of standing poses, followed by Savasana – the Dead Body Pose. Hereafter all the poses are done on the floor – either lying down or sitting up. Focused below are the 12 standing series before Savasana, and the physical and medical benefits these postures offer.
The Standing Series
These asanas begin with the Standing Deep Breathing (Prayanama Breathing) pose that prepares the body for the upcoming postures. This pose helps the lungs expand and increases circulation to the whole body and it teaches one to use the lungs to their full capacity.
Following the Prayanama Breathing are the standing poses which include the Half Moon Pose (Ardha-Chandrasana) with Hands to Feet Pose (Pada-Hastana), Awkward Pose (Utkansana) and Eagle Pose (Garurasana). The physical benefits of these poses include the strengthening of every muscle in the central part of the body, increased flexibility of the spine and sciatic nerves, strengthening and firming of the thigh muscles, calves and hips and also the upper arms and the abdomen.
As for the medical benefits, these poses correct bad posture, promote kidney function (Half Moon Pose), increase blood circulation in the knees, ankle joints and at the same time elevate rheumatism, arthritis and gout (Awkward Pose). The Eagle Pose helps transport fresh blood to sexual organs and kidneys and at the same time improving sexual control.
The Balancing Series
These series include balancing poses on one foot each time. The session begins with Standing Head to Knee Pose (Dandayaman – Janushirasana), followed by Standing Bow Pulling Pose (Dandayamana – Dhanurasana) and ends with Balancing Stick Pose (Tuladandasana). Among the physical benefits of these asanas are tightening of the abdominal and thigh muscles, firming of the abdominal wall, upper thighs, upper arms, hips and buttocks. The Standing Bow Pulling Pose is also known to increase the size of ribcage and lungs.
As for the medical benefits, these standing series assist in improving mental and psychological powers as well as developing concentration and determination.
Standing Forward Bend
This pose, also known as Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose (Dandayaman-Bibhaktapada-Paschimothasana) stretches and strengthens sciatic nerves and tendons. As for the medical benefits, this pose helps the functioning of abdominal organs.
Warrior and Triangle Series
Begins with Triangle Pose (Trikanasana), followed by Standing Leg Head to Knee Pose (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana), and into warrior poses which include Tree Pose (Tadasana) and Toe Stand Pose (Padangustasana).
These postures improve every muscle, tendon and internal organs. Firm upper thighs, hips, reduce waistline, hips, buttocks and upper thighs. And the warrior poses improve posture and balance as well as increase ankle, knee and hip joint’s flexibility.
These poses improve and invigorates nerves, veins and tissues. In addition to curing rheumatism ad lumbago (back pain), they also prevent hernia by strengthening the internal oblique muscles (Tree Pose). The Toe Stand is known to cure gout and haemorrhoid.
With the completion of the Toe Stand Pose, the intense 45 minutes of the first phase of Bikram Yoga ends with Savasana or the Dead Body Pose. This pose helps with blood circulation and returns it to normal. It also brings the body to complete relaxation while preparing it for the following 45 minutes.
To see how this asanas are performed, go to Yogi Logic website where there are described in greater detail.